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Let's Talk Tallinn: The City's Five Most Bizarre Soviet Buildings

July 12, 2012 at 4:06 PM | by | ()

Who goes to Estonia?! Well, our roaming correspondent John Walton does and, all this week, he'll be filling us in on what's up way up there in this world capital on the Baltic Sea.

Cards on the table: we love Brutalism in architecture. That's the angular, in-your-face, often concrete-formed style popular from the 1950s-70s, which often feels a little bit like a Star Trek: The Next Generation planetary facility. Slightly closer to home, Tallinn has a whole bunch of these awesome buildings. Which shouldn't be surprising—later Soviet architecture just loved the futuristic look of the things, but there are a few other architectural gems from the USSR days in Tallinn.

1) Tallinn's central post office

Smack bang on Viru Square (which is actually a roundabout), Tallinn's central post office is deliciously and unashamedly Brutalist. It's also a great place to buy stamps, which is less surprising.

2) Hotel Viru

We've already taken you on a tour of the top floor KGB museum on top of Tallinn's landmark hotel, but the architecture itself is just fantastically Modernist, reminding us of a smaller, split-in-two United Nations building.

3) Pirita Olümpiakeskus

We love that word. "Olümpiakeskus" means "Olympic Center." You knew that Tallinn was the host city for the sailing part of the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games, right? Well, there's a fairly large complex built out in the suburb of Pirita (shockingly enough, by the sea) that's got some fantastic late-70s stuff. Like the Olümpiakeskus. Olümpiakeskus. Heh.

4) Pirita Top

Just down the beach (yes, a nice sandy beach in the Baltics) from the Olümpiakeskus, you'll find the insanely 70s Pirita Top hotel and casino, also built for the Olympics.

From the crazy restaurant suspended in the air to the awesome balconies (which were filled with guests going a delightful shade of pink during a hot summer's day of around 70°F/21°C), this one is definitely worth a wander around with your camera.

5) Teletorn

Slightly further out from Pirita, you come to Teletorn, which is not a Tolkien elf but rather the Tallinn TV Tower. Also built for the Olympics, it's been recently renovated as a tourist attraction and has a great view and an an absolutely brilliant interactive exhibit telling the story of the tower. It's fascinating, especially the bit about the Estonian revolution, where Teletorn was a major scene of the final confrontation with the Soviet Union.

Beware if you've got a fear of heights, though: there are person-sized windowed holes in the floor so you can see straight down hundreds of feet. We almost walked on one and had a giant freakout that was only fixed by the liberal application of a stiff drink and a nice sit-down. At ground level.

[Photos: John Walton/Jaunted]

Archived Comments:

Talinn's Soviet buildings

I can't believe you have written about and photographed Tallinn's Soviet buildings without including the Linnahall, formerly the V I Lenin Palace of Culture and Sport and built for the 1980 Olympics. Unless it has been demolished since I was there two years ago. I'll check when I return to Tallinn next week. Pictures here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/grey0beard/5194359441/ http://www.flickr.com/photos/grey0beard/5194953974/in/photostream/

Yeah, I thought about it...

I considered it, but the incredible amount of graffiti on Linnahall takes away from the lines and angles of the Brutalist essence. Give Tallinn my love! :)

beautiful Place

Amazing, it's beautiful place, professional photographers.

Not only Tallinn

I have been going to Russia on and off since 1992 and there are a lot of buildings that just look out of place. I remember thinking to myself during my first visit that they must get a deal on cement.

Nice Place

Thanks a lot for sharing us about this update. Hope you will not get tired on making posts as informative as this.



unique buildings..

the soviets really have unique designs for their buildings, really different from usual architectures. nice!